Although it rarely happens, police officers are sometimes criminally charged for excessive use of force on a suspect. This generally occurs when there is a clear video or other conclusive evidence that proves one or more officers went beyond normal law enforcement protocols to hurt someone. However, victims can also file a similar civil lawsuit that alleges police abused their authority as government employees.
A 16 year old from Brooklyn was severely beaten by two NYPD officers.
Teenager from Brooklyn is hit multiple times by officers
Two police officers had been in pursuit of the young victim when the video begins. The footage shows the two officers making initial contact with the victim after a short chase on foot on Crown Heights Street. As soon as the young man surrenders, one officer winds up and throws a punch at the victim’s head, then the other draws his firearm and begins to hit him with it.
After the incident, the victim was left with broken teeth and other injuries to the mouth area. The victim’s parents and their attorney had released statements that they expect to pursue criminal charges to the fullest extent available. Both officers were later indicted by a grand jury for multiple crimes related to the incident, including assault and official misconduct. The NYPD has rarely had to face criminal charges related to excessive force, making this case unique in the department’s history.
What are the differences between civil and criminal police brutality cases?
Criminal charges are sometimes filed at the discretion of a local prosecutor. This does not happen after many incidents of police misconduct. Prosecutors will usually only pursue formal criminal charges when there is significant evidence that an officer has done something illegal. In borderline use of force cases, the department may use its own internal process to issue non-criminal disciplinary actions through an internal affairs investigation.
However, the victim will also likely want to file a civil lawsuit related to the same incident. The fact that there are pending criminal charges ultimately will not affect the victim’s ability to file a civil case, even if the charges are later dropped or reduced. A civil lawsuit is often the best option for a victim, as it allows them to speak with an attorney about their concerns and injuries and ask for a reasonable amount of money to cover these problems from the municipality or department that employs the officers. Civil trials also have a lower burden of proof than criminal cases, making it somewhat easier for an experienced attorney to win a case for civil damages rather than put the officers in jail. Many police brutality lawyers will do their best to represent a client in a civil case as along as a reasonable argument can be made that the officers abused their authority.
Call an experienced police brutality attorney today
To find out more about the possibility of filing a lawsuit after an incident of police misconduct, get in touch with the Greenberg Law Firm. Free consultations are available to those who need expert legal services in the Brooklyn area and nearby parts of New York.